1 July 2008

Zimbabwe: African Union Calls for Unity Government

The African Union (AU) has called on Zimbabwe's political parties to enter talks aimed at establishing a government of national unity, news agencies reported late Tuesday.

In a report from the AU summit being held in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, Agence-France Presse quoted unnamed officials as saying that after two hours of debate, African heads of government had adopted a resolution encouraging Zimbabwe's leaders "to initiate dialogue with a view to promoting peace [and] stability."

In its report from the summit, Reuters interpreted the resolution as "a rare AU intervention in an internal political dispute and an unprecedented rebuff to [President Robert] Mugabe." But the agency said the resolution was not as strongly-worded as some nations had wanted.

Botswana reportedly wanted Mugabe banned from African Union and Southern African Development Community meetings. Vice President Mompati Merafhe said allowing him to take part gave "unqualified legitimacy to a process which cannot be considered legitimate."

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